From: Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics Ed. W. A. DEWEY, M. D.
Digitalis: Digitalis is known chiefly for its action on the heart, and it is rare that a patient suffering from an affection of that organ does not get Digitalis in some form. There is no doubt but that it is a much abused drug. Its symptoms are, however, clear, and briefly stated, as follows:
The pulse is slow but primarily strong, there is great weakness of the cardiac tissue, and secondarily the pulse becomes weak. Extra exertion increases its rapidity, but diminishes its force, so that the quick pulse becomes irregular and intermittent. The heart feels as if the blood stood still. There is weakness and numbness of the left arm, and often blueness of the surface of the body, or cyanosis. The patient fears that the heart will stop beating if he should make any motion.
Gelsemium has the opposite symptom to this. The patient is roused out of sleep feeling that the heart will stop beating, and he is impelled to move about to keep it going.
A number of drugs have numbness of the left arm in heart affections, notably Aconite, Kalmia, Rhus and Pulsatilla.
The Digitalis patient has a doughy look to the skin; there is often a sick feeling at the stomach after eating.
Apis has a symptom that will lead to its use in heart affections, namely: “He does not see how he can get another breath.”
Like Arsenic and Lachesis, the tendency of Digitalis is downwards, and it must be used cautiously and only when indicated homoeopathically. There are numerous other symptoms that will indicate Digitalis. Disturbed sleep, apprehensiveness, deep sighing, slow respiration, dry cough, suffocative spells. In fact, such symptoms as may be caused by an irregular distribution of the blood. Digitalis is also indicated in dropsical conditions dependent on heart trouble; anasarca, cardiac dropsy associated with slow pulse, urine suppressed or scanty. Apocynum is similar in this relation.
Cactus grandiflorus : Perhaps the next most important remedy in heart affections, from the homoeopathist’s standpoint, is Cactus. It’s well known characteristic symptom, “Sensation as if the heart were grasped with an iron hand” which clutches and relaxes alternately, is ever present to the mind. It has, however, other symptoms. It is similar to Arnica in chest soreness and constriction; it has pains shooting into the left arm, oedema and a quick, throbbing, tense, hard pulse, which may or may not intermit. Carditis and pericarditis may call for Cactus.
There is great irritation of the cardiac nerves, and Cactus may be found to be the remedy for angina pectoris. It is a remedy adapted to hypertrophy of the heart in young people. It is also very useful in intense palpitation and fluttering sensations about the heart. It is indicated for such symptoms in young girls about the age of puberty and at menstrual epochs.
Kalmia latifolia : Kalmia is a remedy for cardiac hypertrophy, especially after rheumatism, and has the symptom so common in heart affections, namely, “numbness of the left arm.” There is with Kalmia much pain and anguish about the heart, some dyspnoea, palpitation, and pressure from the epigastrium towards the heart. The heart is irregular and intermits every third or fourth beat. There are shooting pains through the chest to the scapula.
Kalmia is an excellent remedy for cardiac troubles when they have been caused by the suppression of rheumatism by external applications. The pulse of Kalmia is slow, but not as slow as that of Digitalis, Phytolacca has tingling and numbness of the right arm, but the three chief remedies having this symptom in the left arm are Kalmia, Rhus and Aconite.
Acute pericarditis depending upon rheumatism will call for Kalmia, the sharp pains taking away the breath will call attention to it. Hering says Kalmia has a most beneficial action in diminishing too rapid pulsations of the heart.
Spigelia : Spigelia is another remedy for the painful affections about the heart. It stands at the head of the list for acute carditis and pericarditis. There are sharp pains shooting from the heart to the back, and radiating from the heart down the arm, over the chest, and down the spine. There is palpitation worse from any movement of the arm or body. There is a purring sensation felt over the cardiac region when placing the hand thereon. The pulse is intermittent, not synchronous with the heart beat, and the slightest motion of the arm or hands makes the patient worse. Heart symptoms accompanying neuralgia call for Spigelia. Irregular and tumultuous action of the heart are well met by Spigelia. At times the heart beat is even audible. We sometimes find this symptom under Arsenicum, which is useful in hypertrophy of the heart from climbing high places, mountains, etc., but Spigelia comes in earlier in heart troubles than does Arsenicum.
Rheumatic endocarditis will often find its curative remedy in Spigelia and it has a most beneficial action in angina pectoris. In cardiac inflammations it comes in after Aconite. It corresponds well to chronic affections of the heart, particularly valvular disease and hypertrophy.
Aconite : Among the remedies having a marked influence on the heart is Aconite. It has, as has been seen, numbness of the left arm. It also has tingling in the fingers, associated with heart disease. Aconite produces a cardiac congestion, with anxiety, oppression and palpitation, worse when walking. Lancinating stitches occur, and also attacks of intense pain. It is the remedy in uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart.
Glonoine : has a fullness in the region of the heart, with some sharp pains, fluttering of the heart with violent beatings, as if the chest would burst open.
Amyl nitrite : has oppressed breathing and constriction about the heart. Both of these latter remedies are useful in angina pectoris.
Veratrum viride : has a condition simply of intense arterial excitement and is recommended as a remedy to be used continuously in hypertrophy with dilatation. It is an important remedy in all inflammatory affections of the heart and its membranes.
Rhus toxicodendron : Rheumatic hypertrophy calls for Rhus. It is a palpitation of the heart from over-exertion, with numbness and lameness of the left arm and shoulder. Pericarditis or endocarditis from exposure to rain, getting wet, etc. The symptoms are worse on every change of the weather. Uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart, such as comes in athletes, machinists, etc., calls for Rhus, and among other remedies for this condition may be mentioned Arnica and Bromine.
Pericarditis due to septic conditions will call for Rhus and in heart troubles, as in all others, it follows Bryonia well, and Bryonia may be an early remedy in pericarditis. The rheumatic basis of nearly all the heart symptoms and the general condition of the remedy will decide.
Bryonia : In affections about the membranes of the heart, of course, Bryonia is one of the most prominent remedies. It corresponds to the first or second stage of pericarditis when of rheumatic origin, and especially if pleuritic symptoms be present. There are intense fever, frontal or occipital headache, and acute stitching pains which are aggravated by movement, and the friction murmur is always present. It does not usually correspond to pericarditis from Bright’s disease or pyaemia.
Asclepias tuberosa : is similar to Bryonia, but the symptoms are not so acute, the fever is not intense, the pain is pricking and extends to the left shoulder. Tthere is a dry spasmodic cough and the pain is relieved by bending forward.
A valuable group of symptoms calling for Bryonia is the following: Cramp in region of the heart, aggravated by walking, raising one’s self or using the slightest exertion, even raising the arm. Heart beats violently and rapidly.
Convallaria : There is quite a large class of remedies affecting the heart which might be termed the newer remedies. Among these is Convallaria. It is useful in valvular diseases of the heart with scanty urine, dropsy and great dyspnoea. It has so relieved the oedema in a number of cases that the patient could lie down. Dyspnoea, palpitation and oedema due to mitral disease have been relieved by it The provings of the remedy show a feeble heart sound, anaemic murmurs over the jugular vein, pain in region of heart, and an uneasy fluttering; a sensation when exercising as if the heart stopped beating and then started up again, causing a faint, sick feeling. This uneasiness about the heart should suggest its use in the condition known as cigarette or tobacco heart.
Another of the new remedies is Adonis vernalis. It increases arterial tension, regulates the heart beats by lessening the frequency of the pulse and increasing the force of the cardiac contraction. The remedy is well tolerated, increases diuresis and acts with rapidity. Otherwise it is similar to Digitalis. It is seen, however, from the above that its use is physiological rather than homoeopathic.
Lycopus Virginicus is still another heart remedy of this class. It is useful in cardiac irritability with depressed force after abuse of cardiac depressants or cardiac stimulants, excessive hypertrophy, muscular weakness, etc. Its use has been limited, chiefly confined to the condition known as cardiac asthma, where it works well.
Another remedy useful in irritable heart is Collinsonia and like Digitalis and Lycopus it is secondarily homoeopathic. Irritability of the heart due to suppression of hemorrhoidal flow especially indicates Collinsonia.
Strophanthus is one of our recent accessions to the line of cardiac remedies. It has been found useful in weak, hypertrophied, irritable heart, with tense arteries and a free discharge of urine. It probably suits better heart troubles dependent on kidney disease.
Crataegus oxyacantha : This is a new remedy, and useful when the heart’s action is feeble and irregular and the pulse small and intermittent. Sensation as if heart would stop.
Lachesis : The snake poisons exercise a very marked effect on the heart and circulation, as well as on the blood itself. Lachesis produces a palpitation of the heart and a constrictive feeling in the cardiac region. There is a smothering sensation about the heart, waking the patient out of sleep. He can bear no pressure on the chest. Pulse small and weak.
Kali hydroiodicum has this same smothering sensation about the heart, waking him out of sleep and compelling him to get out of bed.
Graphites has a similar symptom, and also a cold feeling about the heart, found under Petroleum and Natrum muriaticum as well.
Naja tripudians, another of the snake poisons, has been used with good effect in valvular affections of the heart with a dry, teasing cough. There is also a tremulous action. It is a remedy that should not be overlooked.
Lachesis has also the symptom that the heart feels too large for the chest. Atheromatous conditions of the heart and blood vessels call for Lachesis, especially in old people when symptoms of dropsy are present.
Lilium tigrinum : Lilium has some important heart symptoms. It has a pain in the heart as if grasped in a vice, which awakens the patient suddenly. There is much fluttering about the heart, and faintness. It is a sensation as if the heart were grasped and then released. Lilium will be found useful in purely functional affections, independent of organic lesion. There is much cardiac irritability, nervous palpitation, and the symptoms are ameliorated by lying on the left side. Motion aggravates. Lilium is useful in conditions of nervous palpitation, and in functional cardiac disorders in women with uterine disease.
Sulphur may be the remedy when it seems as if there were almost too much blood sent to the heart, producing palpitation, gasping for breath, and sensation as if the heart were too large for the chest.
Arsenicum : Arsenicum is a remedy often thought of in heart affections and often useful. Like Lachesis, it is more adapted to later stages of heart trouble, when the course is downwards. Arsenic produces great irregularity of the heart, or the pulse may be quick and weak. It is especially useful in pericarditis or endocarditis after suppression of measles or scarlatina. A grand remedy in diseases of the heart depending upon constitutional causes like sepsis, also in affections of the heart depending upon fatty degeneration of the blood vessels. Restlessness will be present, and oedema, puffiness of the eyes and swelling of the feet. Great dyspnoea, spells of suffocation at night on lying down and particularly after midnight.
Phosphorus affects rather the right heart, producing a venous stagnation, and it is exceedingly useful in fatty degeneration of this organ.
Arsenic rather affects the left heart, has more oppression of the chest in breathing, more orthopnoea and more anasarca. The patient cannot lie down or go upstairs.
Two other remedies useful in fatty degeneration of the heart are Cuprum aceticum and Phytolacca decandra.
Collinsonia : In functional disorders of the heart, Collinsonia is an excellent remedy, especially when they are reflex from hemorrhoidal troubles or alternate with them. Although the provings do not indicate a specific action on the heart, it has been found useful where there is much cardiac irritability, traceable to suppressed hemorrhoidal bleeding, the cardiac nerves seem irritated, and there is great sensitiveness about the heart, fullness and oppression about the chest, with difficult breathing and faintness. It cured for the writer a case of severe constrictive pain about the heart in a man who habitually passed blood with his stools. Upon the disappearance of the blood from the stools the heart symptoms commenced and when the flow of blood became re-established, the heart symptoms disappeared. Collinsonia entirely cured both conditions.
A characterizing indication is a persistent, rapid, but weak pulse; the action is excessive, but the force is deficient. Hale thinks Collinsonia acts on the heart by removing obstructions or irritations in the liver, portal system, or kidneys, and by increasing muscular tonicity.